Beginning today, flyers have a new option for getting between Manhattan and either New York JFK or Newark Liberty airports: a helicopter ride from Gotham Air. Price: $99 promotional rate for first-time users; $199 – $219 thereafter. Flight time: six minutes.
The operation is based on crowdsourcing flights: Flights are only confirmed when four seats have been sold. So, you’ll either be adding your name to the list of passengers already booked on a particular flight, or requesting a flight time and hoping that three more travelers will piggyback on your booking. The company promises to have regularly scheduled flights in place by Spring 2015.
For now, bookings must be made on the Gotham website; a mobile booking app will available in February.
In the event that the helicopters are grounded, Gotham has a backup plan: a fleet of Tesla sedans to chauffeur travelers to their destinations.
Deal or No Deal
Although the six-minute flight time makes for good marketing copy, the true travel time—including getting to the helipad, waiting for the helicopter to load, and getting from the helicopter’s landing site to your airport terminal—is likely to equal or exceed the door-to-door time of a taxi or car-service airport transfer.
Crowdsourcing is a neat way of taking advantage of underutilized assets, helicopters in this case. But it also adds an element of uncertainty to travel planning.
The $99 promotional rate is attractive, but the regular fares are much less so.
Gotham isn’t likely to disrupt airport transfers the way Uber has disrupted the taxi business. But it’s nice to have another option. And for the novelty and cool factor alone, a scenic ride to the airport in a Bell 407 would be a great way to start a trip.
Reader Reality Check
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This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.